Name: Linda
State: California
Child’s Age: 9
Child’s School Level: Elementary
Area(s) child struggles: Attention, Behavior, Emotions, Math, Psychological Issues, Reading, Self-esteem, Social Skills, Writing

Describe a challenging incident or situation involving your child’s learning or behavior.

Although he’s gotten a little better as he’s grown older, at ages 7 through 12, my son was almost impossible to take to any event where the main activity was to listen to someone talking and look at what they were talking about — for example, in tours of historic places, museums, art shows, nature walks, etc. He has AD/HD and dyslexia. He was constantly either nagging us to go, telling us how bored he was, asking to go to the nearest food concession, nagging us to buy things, or simply acting out.

Describe how you responded to the situation, including the actions you took or strategies you used to support or defend your child in the situation.

In desperation one day at an art exhibit that I really wanted to be able to “savor,” I suggested that my son become the “official photographer” for our family for this outing. (Fortunately, since the exhibit was huge metal sculptures, photographs were not prohibited.) I gave him “specifications” for what he needed to record with the photos, so there would be a focus (so to speak) for his assignment — the building where the sculpture was displayed, his favorite pieces of sculpture, pictures of people enjoying the exhibit, etc. To my relief, he got very involved in his assigned task. I later asked him to put the photos in a book and write captions for them so we could remember our outing.

How did your child handle the situation?

It worked very well with my particular child, and we’ve been able to use it at social events, as well. Other benefits are: we have some good photos of these occasions; taking the photos allows him to interact with people at the event in appropriate ways; and he’s proud of his work.

Describe up to 3 things you learned from the situation?

  • Sometimes desperation begets creativity.
  • Kids rise to our expectations.
  • There’s more than one way to enjoy a setting or event.

Describe up to 3 things your child learned from the situation?

  • He could participate in a constructive way.
  • He could do something useful for the family.
  • He was competent.

What do you wish you had done differently, if anything?

Nothing, really. I just wish I’d thought of it earlier in his growing up.

What advice would you give other parents in this type of situation?

It may not work for every kid. A disposable camera might be a good idea for young and/or distractible kids.

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Updated: March 14, 2016